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A sett of anatomical tables, with explanations, and an abridgment, of the practice of midwifery: with a view to illustrate a treatise on that subject, and collection of cases / by William Smellie (London, 1754) Galter Health Sciences Library, Special Collections, Northwestern University, Chicago.
by William Smellie (Scottish, 1697—1763)
About the Book:
William Smellie (Scottish, 1697—1763) began his medical career in the 1720s in Lanark, Scotland and went to London in 1740. There he established himself as a surgeon and man midwife and also taught midwifery to mostly male but also some female students. By the end of his career, Smellie was the most famous user of forceps in England. He was not, of course, the only one using forceps, but he achieved notoriety when he was attacked in 1760 by a midwife named Elizabeth Nihell who, in her Treatise on the art of midwifery, singled Smellie out to decry the brutality of the surgeon’s forceps. And yet, it is clear from Smellie’s own account that he struggled with forceps delivery. He used his disastrous cases to develop solutions to the many problems that plagued women during birth. Smellie’s practice, combined as it was with teaching, became one long experiment in delivery methods. In addition to his teaching, Smellie published a manual called Treatise on the theory and practice of midwifery (1751), along with two volumes of case studies. And finally he published his illustrated obstetrical atlas A sett of anatomical tables, with explanations, and an abridgment of the practice of midwifery, with a view to illustrate a treatise on the subject an,d collection of cases (London, 1754). Containing large, folio engravings of the pregnant uterus after drawings by the Dutch artist Jan van Rymsdyk, Smellie’s atlas drew a direct connection between practical midwifery and knowledge gained from dissection.

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